January 28, 2012
It’s a new year – and for many, a time for new beginnings….
…And the arrival of 2012 signaled that it was time for the Kona Babes annual theme party. This year’s gathering was graciously hosted by Babe Cindy at her new beach pad on Ali’i Drive. For years, I (and probably many of you) have cruised past the postage-stamp-sized empty lot and wondered what kind of a structure would fit on that tiny parcel of land?
Visionaries Cindy and Tom proved that they were not obtuse like the rest of the skeptics and made their dream become reality by literally working their okoles off (they really did) right along side their designer, contractor and engineer. The obvious answer to the dilemma of the small building footprint was to go vertical rather than horizontal – and so, up they went!
On those rare occasions that I needed to be on Ali’i Drive, I purposely routed past their house to watch the progress – and so did the rest of Kona judging from the constant traffic jams of gawkers and ni’eles (that’s nosy in Hawaiian, pronounced nee-ēh-leh).
Ensconced behind striated lava (pahoehoe) rockwalls and turquoise metal gates (featuring a montage of West Hawaii’s abundant sealife) rises an assertive and towering building engineered of concrete, stucco, metal, solar panels and mostly hard surfaces necessary to withstand the daily assault from the mighty Pacific ocean.
My eye is immediately drawn to the lei-bedecked (faux) german shepherd guarding the front door at the top of the entry stairs. An ode to Tom and Cindy’s fondness for the loyal breed of dog, the sentry serves both as a reminder of beloved pets and as a welcome sign to invited guests (or they could just get a big charge out of seeing the foolish looks from passing joggers who belatedly realize they won’t be attacked ). As a matter of fact, the dog’s costume changes occasionally at the toss of a hat – which, has adorned him in the past.
Forewarned about meager parking opportunities, most of the Babes coerced their husbands to provide drop off and pick up service! How, you wonder, did we get our array of fondue pots, assorted menu items and necessary beverage selections upstairs to the top floor?? By elevator, of course!
Located in the basement/parking area of the property, the lift is large enough for one or two people plus groceries, and perhaps a miniature pony– however, all together, would make a tight fit! The savvy homeowners planned ahead and budgeted in this handy convenience.
At penthouse level, the door opened into the living room and kitchen, where all party supplies were deposited onto the generously sized center island.
The home deceives from the exterior, which gives the illusion of a substantially-sized interior. Cindy’s home appears lofty, but the rooms are manageable in size and tastefully appointed so that we all felt very comfortable and relaxed. Perched on the shoreline with panoramic views relieved the closeness of neighbors – and thankfully, according to our Beach Babe – they are good ones! Hallelujah – since we partied on into the evening on the lanai, where noise has no boundaries!
First up on the menu: fondue pots filled with melted cheese for the array of breadsticks, vegetables, bread cubes and fruit slices. Mostly swiss type cheeses (Jarlsberg, Emmenthaler, Gruyere…) were spiked with white wine and Kirsch – and I thought I’d never get my fork in there – fortunately a spot opened up and I put the camera down somewhere and dove in.
Some of the girls took a moment to set up more fondue pots on the lanai tables, where Tom (who must have spent the entire day on his knees) thoughtfully taped a multitude of extension cords out of sight and mind – so that the Babes wouldn’t have to worry one bit about bothersome details such as a source for electricity!
There was at least one pot per three cooks/diners. The miracle, of course, is that we were able to find that many fondue pots in Kona!
There was a vessel of hot peanut oil for Pam’s fabulous “Asian Ahi Croquettes”. More fondues were available to cook assorted vegetables and seafood dipped in tempura batter to deep-fry to perfection.
Chicken, beef and pork cubes were dunked in simmering broths along with fresh greens and vegetables. Mei even thought to bring ramen noodles to add to the mix.
Where conversation never lacks at a Babe’s function – this group was (at first) surprisingly subdued, focusing on the most important tasks at hand: cooking and eating.
Later, the ladies became a bit more clamorous after arriving at the level of happy fulfillment; assisted, of course, by frequent pours of champagne and wine.
Satiated, (or should I say saturated??) the gals retired to the opposite side of the lanai and comfortable seating just in time for the famous Kona sunset with ‘green flash’.
Normally, a cloudless, vog-free and knife-edged horizon is required for viewing. Although I have witnessed many spectacular and glorious Kona sunsets, the green-flash phenomenon remains elusive to me. However , whether you care to hear it or not, just about everyone in West Hawaii has a story to tell about the mythical flash along with intricate and elaborate descriptions of various emerald hued auroras.
Whatever! I hooted along with everyone else as they shouted in unison at the sight of an almost-biblical halo surrounding the sun as it sank into the horizon. “Woo-hoo”! It was beginning to sound like an LSD-fest from the 60’s (…”Incense and peppermint, the color of thyme”…). I might be color-blind, or it could be that I understand that atmospheric refraction and scattering of short wavelengths result in mass cosmic hypnosis of the green kind. Ok – so there is no Santa Claus!
Eventually we sauntered back to the kitchen where someone (a menehune?) had thoughtfully heated pots of various chocolate sauces – some with complimentary liqueurs – and laid out colorful platters of fruit and cake bites to satisfy everyone’s (by now) growing hunger for something sweet – DESSERT!
Cindy offered a tour of her gorgeous home and a group of us followed . Along with the Living room and kitchen, the top floor included an office and powder room. Taking the stairs down to the second floor revealed bedrooms, baths and more lanai. Everything flowed well as floorplan, materials and colors used all culminated in a beautifully functional home for the diligent owners. Tom even installed his own personal putting green (yes – he was able to fit that onto the sidelot!).
And, speaking of the groom – he was conspicuously absent from the premises – probably relegated to the downstairs closet along with his lonely trumpet case!
As fondue parties go, there were masses of plates, pans, and utensils to be washed and put away or taken home.
And fondue forks! Each pot must have come with at least eight of them! Always resourceful, the Babes donned their aprons and went to work. I’ve never seen so many women in a kitchen practically on top of each other, working together towards a united cause: to leave Cindy with as little evidence as possible that we were even there, and prepare some tidbits for Tom to enjoy when he returned from wherever he was banished to. Afterall – we don’t want to burn our bridges towards any possible return for another party!
Eventually we gathered our belongings and took turns using the elevator to street level where our hubby’s dutifully arrived for their scheduled pickups. While loading the car, I turned towards the front porch and thought I saw the lei-bedecked german shepard laughing at me! …
And this, from the person who has never seen a green flash! I shook it off as we disappeared into the balmy night, contemplating the evening spent with good friends, and a single, creeping thought: “where – in the world of green flashes – am I going to store that fondue pot until the next party??”
Mahalo, Cindy & Tom, for your gracious hospitality!